Most Sri Lankans are born into a caste, a hereditary social class that influences their choice of profession and marriage partner. However, other than in marriage, most modern Sri Lankans pay little attention to caste, and people from different castes intermingle in all areas of life.

Family ties in Sri Lanka are very strong. Seniors live with their adult children, holding a respected place in the family. Extended families may live in compounds that include many relatives' houses and gardens. In childhood, Sri Lankans learn modesty, obedience to their parents and loyalty to their family. The husband is considered the head of the family . Though many women are wage earners, women's primary duties are those of mother and wife. Women are also in charge of finances and often have the last word on their children's arranged marriages.

Girls usually have fewer recreational activities than boys. They spend much time learning domestic skills, while boys have more freedom to explore their surroundings and play with friends. A ceremony is held to mark a girl's first menstrual period. After that, her respectability rests on her modesty.

Marriage, traditionally arranged by parents, is considered the most important event for all Sri Lankans. Some parents identify potential spouses for their children through their network of friends and relatives, marriage brokers, the Internet or newspaper advertisements. Brides are provided with dowries, which may consist of land, a house, money or other valuables. Marriage decisions are based on the woman's dowry or man's assets, the social and religious status of the candidates, as well as the matching of the couple's horoscope. Couples, however, do not have to agree to the match.

The birth of children is considered joyous; significant occasions in a young child's life, such as the eating of its first solid food or learning of the alphabet, are marked with celebrations. Daughters are as welcome as sons.

While urban Sri Lankans may live in high rises, poorer rural families may have houses with mud walls and thatched roofs. In cities, men often wear Western clothing, but elsewhere men wear a long skirt called a sarong, while women wear a skirt called a redde or the Indian sari.

  Did you know?
Buddhist weddings are held on a square platform called a poruwa. After rings are exchanged, the couple feed each other kiri bath (rice cooked in milk) or rice milk. When the couple descends from the poruwa a coconut is broken to wish them happiness and prosperity.